Spices, herbs  add flavour to value and export volumes

Edgar Vhera

Agriculture Specialist Writer

SPICES and herbs managed to weather the depressed marketing environment punctuating the first 10 months of the year to emerge as the only sub-sector of the horticulture industry to record an increase in the volume and value of exports when the rest faltered.

The horticulture industry is composed of vegetables, cuttings, flowers, nuts, deciduous fruits, avocadoes, citrus, berries, tea and coffee, spices and herbs and other fruits.

Statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) show that spices and herbs export earnings rose from US$ 3 721 319 in the period January to October 2022 against US$ 4 801 356 in the comparable time this year.

The mass exported rose a gigantic 43 percent from 1 463 848 to 2 082 517 kilogrammes over the same period. The average price, however, took a 10 percent dip from US$2,54 to US$2, 29 per kilogramme.

Dried pepper, crushed or ground pepper, dried fruits of the genus capsicum or pimenta, crushed or ground fruits of genus capsicum or pimenta and chillies are among the products under this emblem. All the other sections experienced drops in volume or value terms.

The spices and herbs section rose in rankings from position eight in 2021 annual horticulture export earnings of US$2, 3 million to six in 2022 with US$4, 8 million.

With a few days left before the year ends, the spices and herbs section will most certainly overtake the 2022 figure as they are currently at par with US$4, 8 million.

Speaking at the horticulture investment forum held in Harare recently, Horticultural Development Council (HDC) vice chairman Mr Liam Philp said the fresh and processed produce section of the horticulture sector under which the spices and herbs section falls, presented the greatest benefit to the country in terms of employment creation.

“Through the ‘hub and spoke’ model smallholder farmers are incorporated into the export business. Currently, about 1 500 hectares are under an export crop from an estimated 40 commercial and 500 small-scale growers,” he said.

A local global good agronomic practice (Global GAP) certified and Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) registered company, Dombera Farm is supporting smallholder farmers to access international markets.

Dombera Farm managing director Mrs Claire Bailey recently confirmed providing farmers with top quality plant genetics to produce African Bird Eye Chilli and training on sustainable farming techniques that protect their natural resources and boost their income.

“As one of the five lead firms in Zimbabwe selected to participate in the UK Trade Partnerships Programme (UKTP), Dombera farm acts as a centralised hub to grade and package products, provide transport and ultimately create market linkages. We currently have 70 smallholder farmers on seven hectares of land,” said Mrs Bailey.

Another local company ShumbaTafari Agriculture (STA) is contracting farmers nationwide for production of Teja chilli.

Recently, the company signed a contract with a global leader in spice processing, Synthite Industry of India to establish a US$12 million chilli extraction plant in the country if the hectarage committed to producing the crop reaches 3 000 at an average yield of 4 000 tonnes per hectare.

“STA in partnership with business economic empowerment federation (BEEF), Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) and AFC Land and Development Bank are working aggressively to expand chillies out-grower programme by engaging 35 000 village business units (VBUs). It offers all farmers a guaranteed offtake market,” STA group administrator Mrs Ruth Mhlanga said Mrs Mhlanga.

A local company Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT) said over 1 000 smallholder farmers from Mwenezi in Masvingo province are set to benefit from enhanced production and marketing of spices in the region.

SAT deputy country director, Mr Lloyd Masunda said the seeds for future (SEFF) project was aimed at enhancing production and marketing of spices in the region.

“The project focuses on promoting alternative cash crops like paprika, coriander and fenugreek as spices, which have been adopted by smallholder farmers in the district,” he said. The SEFF project was started in May 2022 and will run until May 2025. It is being implemented by SAT and supported by the Agency of Italian Cooperation and Support and covers Chiredzi and Masvingo rural districts in addition to Mwenezi.

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